HOW TO MAKE FAST SLOE GIN – THAT’S READY IN A FORTNIGHT

Yes, they are here, at least down in Kent and Sussex, the hedgerows are full and not an overnight frost anywhere! In fact, a heat wave!

Having done a lot of research on Sloe Gin I ran an article in October 2018 on making Sloe Gin and discovered the frost ‘thing’ is not what you think as well as various other old wife’s tales.

So here we are again talking about the same topic, but this time its different.

Can't wait to drink your sloe gin after you've made it? Here's Bill Harriman secret recipe for speeding it up.

sloe tree.jpg

“Sloe gin is a traditional shooter’s drink and it’s very straightforward to make. The only downside is that you have to wait a few months for the flavour to mature before you drink it.

That is, unless you follow this handy recipe which shows you how to make fast sloe gin, that will be ready a fortnight after making, rather than a year later.

Sloe gin is simply a tincture that depends on alcohol to extract the flavour and colour of the sloes. Traditionally, each sloe is painstakingly pricked before being immersed in gin. It’s a long process. You can of course freeze the sloes instead which also allows them to break down and absorb the alcohol.

I was inspired to develop my own recipe for fast sloe gin after I saw the wonderful ruby red colour of the juices oozing through the crust of a damson crumble. They formed a syrup which held the colour and flavour of the fruit to perfection. I reasoned that if a similar approach was taken with sloes, then sloe gin could be made in days rather than months.

I was right and so here’s the delicious result of my researches”

Recipe for speedy sloe gin

INGREDIENTS

  • 450g sloes
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 1L  good quality gin
  • Almond essence
  • 75ml of 79.9 per cent pure spirit vodka

STEP 1: Preparing the sloes

Discard any imperfect sloes and remove any leaves or stalks. Wash the sloes well. Place in an ovenproof dish and dust well with most of the caster sugar. Save 75g of sugar to adjust the sweetness later.

STEP 2: Making the syrup

Bake in a low oven (150 degrees C) for about 20 minutes. You may need to add a teaspoon of water to get the syrup to form. As the fruit starts to break down, stir it around to release the red syrup. When the fruit is a complete mush, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool. When cooled, you can adjust the sugar to taste.

STEP 3: Sieving the fruit

Spoon the stewed fruit into a sieve and force the skins and pulp through the mesh using a wooden spoon. This isolates the stones, which are then thrown away. Put the pulp and syrup into a large jar. Rinse out the oven dish and then sieve the last bits of the fruit with some of the gin to make sure that none of the fruit mixture is wasted.

STEP 4: Adding the gin

Top up the jar with the rest of the gin and leave to cool. After 72 hours test the brew for sweetness and add more sugar if you think it needs it. Give it stir. You may want to add a couple of drops of almond essence. I find this gives the drink a slightly nutty taste. Buy the best almond essence you can and avoid the synthetic stuff, which is normally called almond flavouring.

STEP 5: An extra kick

After a week I add about 75ml of 79.9 per cent pure spirit Vodka. Most gins are only 37.5 per cent by volume and I find them rather thin. The Polish firewater supercharges the mixture and gives it body. It’s flavourless and designed as a base for cocktails. You can buy this rocket fuel on the internet.

STEP 6: The waiting game

After a fortnight, the fast sloe gin is ready to drink. You can also ring the changes and use damsons instead of sloes if you fancy a change, can’t get hold of sloes or have a discovered a source of damsons.

Notes: Like all things in life, Black Thorn Trees/bushes vary. In the same hedgerow where I just picked my sloes they varied depending on the location of the bush AND the sunlight. If you don’t have a choice then so be it, use what you can get. But it pays to forage around and mine are the plumpest and juiciest I’ve had for some years. 12th Sept 2020.